Graydon Gould (L) and Peter Wyngarde | British Film Institute | 14298
The television play South, adapted by Gerald Savory from an original play by Julien Green and screened on 24 November 1959, and made by Granada TV, “is a milestone” in gay cultural history, says BFI curator Simon McCallum. The play tackles race as well as sexuality and was broadcast by ITV 54 years ago and eight years before the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and two years before the film “Victim”. The BFI believes the newly rediscovered production is the earliest known gay TV drama.
Leading man, Peter Wyngarde (right), deserved particular praise.
I think you have to give Wyngarde a massive pat on the back in terms of the bravery in taking this role. There were quite bad reactions from some of the press.” The Daily Sketch’s TV critic complained: “I do NOT see anything attractive in the agonies and ecstasies of a pervert, especially in close-up in my living room. This is not prudishness. There are some indecencies in life that are best left covered up.
That was the prevailing attitude in Britain with homosexual acts between men still illegal, although the Wolfenden report in 1957 had recommended decriminalisation, something that would not happen until 1967.